Syrian forces attack rebels near Damascus, say activists
Syrian forces Wednesday attacked rebels on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, according to activists dpa reported
Army forces massed since the early hours on the outskirts of Zabadani, with the sounds of heavy machine gun fire heard across the area, activists said. There were no immediate report on any casualty figures.
Meanwhile, Syrian troops stormed areas in Reef Damascus hunting for dissidents and arresting several civilians in the nearby areas of Harsta and Arbeen following overnight anti-government protests, activist Haytham Abdallah told dpa.
In the northern province of Idlib, Syrian troops Wednesday shelled areas near the Turkish border, where members of the rebel Syrian Free Army are holed up, reported activists.
Elsewhere, Syrian helicopters were seen hovering over the restive central districts of Al Khalidiyeh and Baba Al-Sibaa, which were being targeted by shelling, added the activists.
It is hard to verify news from Syria as the government has barred most foreign media from volatile areas.
The opposition denied Wednesday reports that Syrian troops began to pull out from some calm cities across the country ahead of a deadline to implement a ceasefire under a United Nations-backed peace plan.
"On the ground, there is no sign of withdrawal. On the contrary, troops across Damascus have been beefed up," Abdallah, the activist, said.
President Bashar al-Assad Monday agreed to an April 10 deadline to implement international envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.
It requires the government forces to withdraw from civilian areas and observe a ceasefire. Rebel fighters are required to immediately observe the truce.
More than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict started in March 2011, according to the UN.